Nearly hidden between a modest boutique and a small Mexican restaurant, the 7165 Lounge seems like a quiet place to host a small get-together. On Nov. 8, the sound of smooth jazz, granola folk and blues guitar trickled out into the streets of Germantown Avenue, as five musical acts took to the stage for an afternoon performance.
Inside the venue, local and out-of-state artists took part in Mighty Virtuoso, a concert organized by Temple alumnus Ian Glispy at the same time he developed a phone application called Mighty Hip. The app allows artists to upload one-minute audio snippets, which are then rated and ranked by other users.
Glispy said he hopes to redefine the way that music is distributed and accessed through Mighty Hip, as a former musician himself. Now, Glispy works as an attorney who manages an academic law library.
“I want to help create an avenue for good music to be heard,” Glispy said. “There needs to be a disruptor for what’s wrong with the entertainment machine. I’m down for independent artists having more power.”
For Glispy, developing Mighty Hip on his own time while working as an attorney was no easy process.
“I was going home and working from midnight to 6 a.m. for a year,” Glispy said.
Lamar Redcross, owner of the 7165 Lounge and a long-time friend of Glispy, said he offered his lounge as the venue for Mighty Virtuoso after a discussion with Glispy about the app.
“I’m always interested in new music,” Redcross said. “Having this hodge-podge of different artists from a lot of different places; I think that’s the way to go.”
Performances at the event came from the current top ranked artists on Mighty Hip so far. Each musician was given a 20-minute window to perform, with roughly five minutes between sets. Near the front door, a local artist sold prints of his work next to a table set up for each artist’s merchandise.
Yolanda Wisher, a 2001 graduate, said she has been writing songs and poetry since the age of 8. At the event, Wisher performed poetry over smooth upright bass lines and driving bongos.
“I’m a poet who’s influenced by a lot of music,” Wisher said. “Poetry and songwriting have always been interchangeable for me.”
Wisher said she holds an optimistic view on the potential for Mighty Hip.
“The app is a great way to connect artists,” Wisher said. “I hope there are more opportunities like this where we can share a space, but show our individual style.”
Like Wisher, fellow Temple alumna and pianist/singer-songwriter Noel Scales has been interested in music since she started performing at 10. Scales said Prince heavily influences her own music.
“My music is like pop, hip-hop and soul all rolled into one,” Scales said.
Scales said she is grateful for the opportunity that Glispy is providing for musicians through his app.
“It’s amazing,” Scales said. “It’s what every artist dreams of. He’s saving the world, one artist at a time.”
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, reggae-soul artist Ian Smith, known by his stage persona “Jahiti,” also made an appearance. Performing across the country at venues in Atlanta, New York and Washington D.C., Smith’s blend of acoustic strumming and reggae-influenced vocals have been showcased on three independent albums.
For Smith, building relationships with other artists is just as important as creating the music itself.
“[I want] to be able to share with some people I’ve met before, and meet some new people as well,” Smith said.
A portion of the proceeds from the event was donated to Metro TeenAIDS, a Washington D.C. based organization dedicated to AIDS prevention and education. Glispy said he wants to continue to tie his musical events to charity in the future.
“For every show we do, we want to support some kind of social cause,” Glispy said.
For Glispy, networking and promotion are an important part of bringing the app, as well as events like Mighty Virtuoso, to life.
“[I did] a whole lot of contacting people I’ve met over the years,” Glispy said. “What also works well is using people’s social networks. Instagram is the real killer.”
Despite a few bugs and some difficulties upgrading the app for newer iPhone operating systems, Glispy looks to the future of Mighty Hip with confidence.
“The finished product is great,” he added. “We have the skeleton, and we just have to put the face on it now. The artist’s excitement is like icing on the cake.”
Eamon Dreisbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Editor’s note: Changes to this article were made on Nov. 19. The woman in the photo is not CC Hill, but Yolanda Wisher.